Updated: Jan 29, 2021
If you have always dreamed of making fresh pasta, but never had the courage to do so, or the task seemed too daunting, gnocchi is a the perfect starter dish to make your splash in the pasta world.
This particular dish is so simple, yet so satisfying. Cacio e Pepe (cheese & pepper) is a well known pasta dish from Italy. It consists of, you guessed it, Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper. It is usually made with a spaghetti pasta. Today we are getting a little creative and replacing those thin slippery noodles for creamy potato morsels.
Side note* I didn't have Pecorino Romano so I am using Parmesan instead. Parm still provides the same cheesy note that you need for a great dish. I also recommend using either Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes for your gnocchi. Check out the video of this dish being prepared here!
1lb. Potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks
1 egg, beaten
1c AP Flour plus more for dusting
1/2c Grated parmesan cheese
Pinch of salt
1/2 Tsp. Black pepper
1 Tsp. Crushed red pepper (for garnish)
For the Sauce:
1/2c Butter (1 stick)
1/2c Grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. Milk (or heavy cream)
1 Tsp. Corn starch
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once water boils, add potatoes and boil on high until potatoes are soft and tender (should be able to stab a fork through the potato with no problem). Save the water in the pot for your pasta. Strain and rice/mash potatoes while they are still hot. Make sure not to mash the potatoes too much. Too much activation to the hot potatoes will make them gummy. Set aside potatoes to cool completely. Once potatoes are cooled, mix with parmesan, egg, flour, salt and pepper until dough forms. Kneed dough on a floured surface for 2 minutes. Shape dough into a large ball then cut evenly into 4 quarters. Make sure the dough you aren't using is resting under a damp towel. Take 1 quarter of dough and roll it into a long "snake". Cut the snake into 1 inch chunks. Take each chunk and roll against the back of a fork with your thumb. See how to roll your gnocchi here! Repeat these steps with the other 3/4 of dough. Place gnocchi balls on a baking sheet covered with a damp towel. Once the reserved water comes back up to a boil, drop a handful of gnocchi into the pot (if you put all the gnocchi in at once they will stick together). Once the gnocchi rises to the top, they are ready to come out. Repeat this process until all the gnocchi has been in the pot. Set the gnocchi aside.
Melt butter in a small pot. Add parmesan, salt, pepper, milk, and cornstarch. Bring to a boil. Once sauce boils, reduce down to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Make sure to constantly whisk the sauce so the cheese melts.
In a bowl, combine gnocchi and sauce and gently stir until gnocchi is evenly coated. Serve warm garnished with crushed red pepper and black pepper.
Gnocchi is a very forgiving and flexible dish. If potato isn't your thing, use a different vegetable for the base! The restaurant I used to work at in NYC made a delicious pea gnocchi dish. We also know all about the cauliflower gnocchi from Trader Joe's. I encourage you to get creative with your gnocchi. You never know what you might discover!